“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
A few weeks ago while browsing the blogging world, I came across this blessing, known as a Franciscan blessing, but accredited to either a Benedictine nun, or a Dominican brother, depending on which site you visit. It hit me when I read it for the first time, and has stayed with me, so I wanted to share it with you.
May God bless you with a restless discomfort
about easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships,
so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.
May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression,
and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for
justice, freedom, and peace among all people.
May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer
from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.
May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that
you really CAN make a difference in this world, so that you are able,
with God’s grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.
And the blessing of God the Supreme Majesty and our Creator,
Jesus Christ the Incarnate Word who is our brother and Saviour,
and the Holy Spirit, our Advocate and Guide, be with you
and remain with you, this day and forevermore. AMEN.
Restless Discomfort. It was the first line that did it, restless discomfort. It doesn’t sound like something you should be praying for. I could imagine how well it would go down when I lead intercessions on a Sunday morning to pray that we be given a restless discomfort. However it SHOULD be something we regularly pray for. So often in the church we fall into the trap of being comfortable with our surroundings and what goes on in our churches. We think, ‘ye, we’re ok’ when we should be stepping back to look at the wider picture and how we can be more effective, and reach more people with the gospel message. I sometimes feel this way about the wider diocese. It is so easy to look inward, and to get wrapped up with internal politics and our own situation. We NEED a restless discomfort about easy answers and superficial relationships!!!
Holy Anger. Another powerful phrase, another aspect we need to regain in the church today. When we are in the trap of easy answers and half-truths, when we cannot see past our own situation, we miss the events where we could truly have effect. Injustice, oppression, exploitation, it is easy to say the right words and to make the sounds a church should make, but as Christians and followers of Christ, we should be people of action. It is easy to talk about the troubles of our world, but much harder to allow them to affect you, and to touch your heart.
Isaiah speaks of the correct way of worshipping and honouring God, of the right way of acting in the world. ‘To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free’ (Ish 58:6). Holy anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation so that we can work for justice, freedom, and peace. What are we to do?
Isaiah continues on in chapter 58, to ‘share your bread with the hungry, to bring the homeless into your house’. Not just sending the means to bring an end to a situation, but connecting with people, allowing the situations to touch your heart.Holy anger at the wrongs in our world and a passion and drive to BE the hands that bring justice, freedom and peace to those in greatest trouble. If Isaiah doesn’t convince you, even with the list of benefits he continues on to describe, then the example Jesus showed us in acting for those oppressed and those at the lowest points of our society should give you some motivation in praying this.
The Gift of Tears We don’t often think of tears as a gift or a blessing. Most of the time when we cry, it is over a situation that has upset or hurt us. Sometimes we cry out of frustration, or sometimes out of despair or loneliness. There are many occasions when we find ourselves shedding a tear and quickly wiping it away, hoping that no one saw. It is not often acceptable to cry in public, not in our society. First of all it’s seen as a sign of weakness, and our society is constantly telling us we need to be strong and independent. Many people feel very uncomfortable around crying, unsettled and unsure of what, if anything, they can do. We would rather people cry in the privacy of their homes. But we are called to be with those who suffer, and those in need.
To cry can be a great relief. If we are honest, we all feel much better after a good cry, and what a great gift to be able to cry with others, to be alongside others in a time of need and to help them find joy. Pray for the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation or the loss of all they cherish. How many people in this world are in pain? Who are rejected? Who starve physically, emotionally, spiritually? Who lose all they love and care about? What a joy to be there for people to be a comfort to them, to help them turn their situations from pain to joy.
Foolishness. In a world when we are constantly told to grow up and be serious, to pray for foolishness just seems wrong. Foolishness to dream that our world can be better. Foolishness to follow Christ in his actions and deeds. Foolishness to believe that we really can me a difference. But of course we can make a difference, and we will if we pray and do what the first three parts of this blessing talk about. Of course we can make a difference if we are restless about easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, and seek truth and love deeply. Of course we can make a difference if we work tirelessly for justice, freedom and peace. Of course we can make a difference if we reach out to people and offer them comfort and work to bring them joy.
We CAN make a difference, we just need enough foolishness to believe it and with God’s grace we CAN do what the rest of the world claim cannot be done.
Restless discomfort, Holy anger, the Gift of Tears, and Foolishness, these are things we should truly pray for. I hope that you are able to pray this, and make it a prayer by which you live your life.